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Anne Boyer

February 15, 2015
Reinbeck Courier

Dear Editor,

5 years ago I was living in Cedar Falls. Truthfully, I loved it. Close to work, fun activities, a lot of parks, entertainment, shopping and we were part of a great community. My husband worked long hours in Waverly so it was the perfect spot for us. One problem, I had one little girl that was going to be starting school and a baby to think of as well. I thought about the logistics of taking my baby to a daycare and then dropping my older daughter off at a different daycare only to have her bussed by someone else to school then being placed in larger classes with lots of kids where I didn't know the families or the teachers. Then I would have the same stressful situation after school until I got home from work. This is when I started thinking that it may be best for our family to move back to Reinbeck where the small town atmosphere would allow our kids to thrive with the protection and support of the entire community. We have a great elementary building and staff, an awesome daycare and would be surrounded by great people while still having many of the conveniences that we had in Cedar Falls. G-R had been a great school for me and I knew that it would be for my kids as well. After some long talks which required some SERIOUS convincing, I was able to get my husband to agree to the move despite the fact that he'd be commuting over 50 minutes to work each way while putting in 12 hour days. It was worth the sacrifice. Thankfully, we were able to find an awesome house for a great price and moved back to Reinbeck in 2010. That first year we continued to take our children to daycare in Cedar Falls and my husband continued to work in Waverly. Once my daughter was in kindergarten we began utilizing the Reinbeck daycare and things were great. Even more thankfully my husband was able to find an awesome job IN Reinbeck! I just kept thinking how fortunate we were to have awesome employment opportunities, housing and all of our friends and family close by. We continued to make new friends with families moving into town and things have been great! We love our elementary school and community.

Ok, so this is all sunshine, roses and warm hugs but really, I couldn't be happier with the decision we made and we made it for the right reasons. My story may be slightly different but is the story of many families that have chosen Reinbeck as their home because of the great housing, employment opportunities and MOST IMPORTANTLY the elementary school. The problem is, now we are being faced with the possible closure of this school, the VERY reason many of us moved to Reinbeck. I've been keeping informed and have attended several meetings over the past year with great concern for our district's future and the future of my family. I've had confidence in the direction of the administration and board and have felt very good about the decisions being made for our district, until lately. It seems like the focus of the task at hand is being clouded by heartfelt pleas and fact and logic aren't resonating as they should. This has compelled me to reach out again in effort to bring rationale, logic and the cold hard facts to light.

Hopefully I haven't lost your attention yet with my boring story of why I moved to Reinbeck because here is where things get interesting. I've always thought it would be fun to be a trial lawyer so I'm going to fulfill some of my inner desires and cover this like any good courtroom case where the school board is our "jury". Let's start by laying out some of the basic information so that everyone can begin on the same page to fairly examine the school closure "case".

Often the judge reviews the law, informs the jury what the law states and what their duty is, so let's start with our districts guiding principles as noted on the school website:

1. Maximize academic opportunities for our students.

2. Work at being a leader in utilizing technology in our classrooms.

3. Maintain and improve facilities to meet student needs.

4. Maintain a positive culture for students, staff and community.

5. Make financial decisions to ensure that G-R remains a financially viable district.

Secondly, let's present the G-R School Board policy that can be found on the school website. Most directly we should focus on G-R Board Policy 204- Code of Ethics. These can be read in detail but in summary they state that the board needs to be motivated to serve the district and children in the best possible way. They are to be trustees of the G-R educational system doing their best to protect it. Very importantly, they are to procure adequate financial support for the G-R school district and promote positive educational programs of the G-R district.

Ok, now let's review some of the details of the case: Status quo is unacceptable. A decision must be made. The top 2 options, that are feasible and currently being considered, according to financial benefit are as follows (please note there are 2 other options but since they are not as financially beneficial they've been left out to keep this case simple):

Option 1- Kindergarten through 6th grade at Reinbeck Elementary with 7-12 in the high school building. This provides an additional savings of approximately $402,000 annually compared to our current situation.

Option 2- Kindergarten through 6th grade at Gladbrook and 7-12 in the high school building. This provides an additional savings of approximately $297,000 annually compared to our current situation.

In Summary, Option 1 provides an additional savings over Option 2 of approximately $105,000 ANNUALLY.

This may seem like enough information for some to come to a sensible verdict but let's add some "expert witness testimony" just to be safe. 2 un-biased experienced administrators were asked by the administration and school board to provide their opinion with regard to the school closure case.

While a full copy of this opinion can be provided let's focus on one key quote. "If the long-term financial picture is the board's primary consideration, we recommend maintaining the Reinbeck elementary building. Academic offerings are enhanced or reductions mitigated if the Reinbeck elementary is maintained through the reduction in transportation and utility costs. The ability to share staff within the district is enhanced by maintaining two buildings in the same community."

Now you might be thinking, ok, case definitely closed but for the sake of a complete case picture we should probably also examine what each town, Gladbrook and Reinbeck have to offer with regards to housing for sale, housing developments for building new homes, business, employment opportunities, churches and their proximity to more populated areas. In effort to keep this case from dragging on, I'll let everyone use their basic knowledge and common sense to evaluate this portion but feel it's fair to say that the scale tips in the direction of Reinbeck being able to provide a greater amount of support and promote growth for the school district.

Let's give the closing argument now: While the facts and logic are crystal clear we understand that the jury is human, they are considering the feelings that are being affected and how the outcome of their decision will impact one town. In all reality, the glaring facts indicate that keeping Reinbeck open is the only logical decision which creates a heavy heart on the jury members with respect to the feelings of the Gladbrook community. While I don't believe that anyone should be using their heart I can understand that it isn't being ignored. After listening to the jury deliberate the pros and cons of each scenario, what I feel hasn't been given enough weight in this "case" is that Option 2, closing Reinbeck, would only create an opposite weight on the heart. Open enrollment and relocation out of Reinbeck will happen at an equal or greater rate, the town will suffer greatly. We could extend this trial to elaborate on emotions of the citizens of Reinbeck and the detriment closing the elementary would have on the town itself but it would be wasted time because the weight of the heart needs to be ignored by our jury and truthfully is an irrelevant argument. The survival of the individual communities is not the responsibility of this jury in this case.

The decision upon us needs to be made with the head utilizing the guiding principles, code of ethics and financial data.

Approximately 2/3 of the student body currently resides in Reinbeck. Bussing a greater portion of the student body is not only a financial burden but an unnecessary risk.

Having all schools in one community provides a financial benefit, administrative efficiencies and is a potential added attraction to bring new families into the district.

Reinbeck Elementary is the newest and most efficient facility and is more than capable of handling the student body.

Educational programs and offerings require finances.

$402,000 in annual savings will be achieved by keeping the Reinbeck Elementary open.

The data supports it. The experts support it. Let's stop deliberating.

Verdict: The Reinbeck Elementary building should remain open to provide our students with the best educational system for the longest period of time. Case Closed.

Respectfully,

Anne Boyer, Reinbeck

 
 

 

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